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NY EVICTIONS AFTER FORECLOSURE
By: Dan M. Blumenthal, Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine, LLP
80 East Old Country Road, Mineola, New York 11501
THE AUTHORITY TO SEEK POSSESSION
Except for the few exceptions discussed below, a purchaser of a property at a
court-ordered foreclosure sale is entitled to full possession of that property pursuant to
statute1 and pursuant to the customary language of foreclosure judgments. While some
buyers may be willing to extend a lease to an existing occupant, most purchasers will
exercise the right to seek vacant possession. The right is independent of ‘cause’ or ‘fault’
of the occupants and there are few substantive defenses against the new owner’s right.
Provided the foreclosure purchaser (or his successor) has not entered into an occupancy
agreement or collected rent, possession may be sought in the foreclosure action (“writ of
assistance”) or by summary proceeding. The writ of assistance dates back to early
common law and the chancery courts and is applicable in any action where the
possession of real property is ancillary relief in a judgment.2
Summary proceedings are a statutory creation, first enacted by the legislature in 1820.3
That goal was, and remains, to provide a “simple, expeditious and inexpensive means of
regaining possession of premises,”4 while providing necessary and appropriate defenses to
protect occupants’ rights.
1. Casella v. Casella, 202 Misc. 1067, 118 N.Y.S.2d 448 (Broome Co. Ct. 1953).
2 O'Connor v. Schaeffel, 11 N.Y.S. 737 (Sup. Ct., NY Co. 1890).
3 Laws of 1820, Ch. 194.
4 201 NY at 454.
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GATHERING DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATION:
The essential document to maintain a post-foreclosure eviction is the referee's deed or a
copy5 of that deed, properly certified by the County Clerk or an attorney.6 In addition, a
new owner is held to knowledge of the names and presence of any occupants that the
buyer or any agents know or could discover (on reasonable inquiry) in the property. Once
the documents are in hand, the new owner may select among two litigation paths, a
motion in the foreclosure case or a separate ‘summary’ proceeding before a lower court
such as the Civil Court of the City of New York or the State District Courts in Nassau and
Suffolk County. The County and the mix of occupants will dictate which eviction track
will provide the swiftest and most complete result.
The protected few -
Rent Controlled or Stabilized tenants are protected from removal by reason of
foreclosure.7 Occupants with vouchers under the HUD Housing Assistance Program
(“HAP”), (a/k/a the ‘Sec. 8’ voucher program) may be evicted post-foreclosure provided
notice, giving the reason for eviction, is served on both the tenants and the HUD HAP
administrator. The Notice must comply with both Federal8 and State law. The requisite
’cause’9 can be found in the subordination clause in the section 8 lease and the changed
5. In 1976, subdivision 5 of RPAPL §713 was amended to allow use of a copy of the deed
rather than the original. L.1976 c.642 §1 (eff. July 21, 1976).
6. CPLR R. 2215.
7. Pisani v. Cominger , 36 A.D.2d 593, 3118 N.Y.S.2d 913 (1st Dep't 1971).
8. 24 CFR §982.310(e)(2)(ii); see also, Federal Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. Franklin, 167
Misc.2d 800, 635 N.Y.S.2d 1006 ( Civ.Ct., Richmond Co, 1995).
9 42 U.S.C. §1437f(D)(1)(b)(ii); see 24 C.F.R. §§982.309, 982.310 (Federal law prohibits
a Section 8 landlord from terminating the HAP contract during the lease term unless
good cause to do so is shown).
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circumstances of the new ownership.
Rights arising prior to the mortgage will typically not be terminated by foreclosure, unless
made subordinate by written agreement (lease).10 A party with rights arising after the
mortgage but prior to the Notice of Pendency11 may not be evicted pursuant to a motion
in the foreclosure action (a/k/a “writ of assistance”) based on due process issues.12 While
the due process issues are not present where the foreclosure purchaser proceeds by
separate landlord tenant proceedings (a/k/a “summary proceeding”) under RPAPL
§713(5), there is an argument that leaseholds of three years or less are not subject to post-
foreclosure termination. Under CPLR 6501, "[a} person whose conveyance or
incumbrance is recorded after the filing of [a notice of pendency] is bound by all
proceedings taken in the action after such filing to the same extent as a party." The term
“conveyance” includes any lease with a term longer than three years.13 While the Court of
Appeals defined an encumbrance nearly a century ago as “any right existing in another to
use the land, or whereby the use by the owner is restricted,”1 it can be argued that, by
specifying recorded interests, CPLR 6501 was not intended to extend beyond recordable
interests and “a lease for a term of less than three years is not capable of being
10. 220 West 42 Associates v. Ronbet Newmark Co., 53 A.D.2d 829, 385 N.Y.S.2d 304,
(1st Dept.) aff'd 40 N.Y.2d 1000, 391 N.Y.S.2d 107 (1976).
11. A ‘Notice of Pendency’ is a filing, indexed against the property, which is deemed to
notify the world that an action which may effect title has been (or is about to be)
12. Nationwide Associates, Inc. v. Brunne, 216 A.D.2d 547, 629 N.Y.S.2d 769 (2d Dept.
13 RPL §290(3).
14 Medford II, LLC v. Scope Intern. Inc. 9 Misc.3d 1117(A), 808 N.Y.S.2d 918 (Table)
(Dist. Ct., Suff. Co. 2005)
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An un-recordable leasehold can be litigated in a foreclosure action15 and there is some
authority for the position that a statutory (month to month) tenant is terminated by
foreclosure even if un-named.16 The cases where a leasehold acquired after the Notice of
Pendency survives foreclosure are predicated on the leasehold being given by a party with
the power to grant an ‘estate’ in the property. The express terms of most judgments of
foreclosure and sale, state that the mortgagors and all those claiming under them from the
date of the filing of the notice of pendency are "forever barred and foreclosed of all right,
claim, lien, title, interest and equity of redemption" in the subject property. Taken at face
value, a mortgagor has no capacity to assign any right in the property after judgment.17
LETTING THEM KNOW IT’S TIME TO GO:
Predicate notice to a Motion for Writ of Assistance
RPAPL §221 authorizes a proceeding within the foreclosure action to remove occupants.
The granting of possession is discretionary with the court. While the statute is silent on
predicate demand requirements, the judgment of foreclosure will usually contain an
explicit decretal paragraph ordering, "that the purchaser or purchasers at said
[foreclosure] sale be let into possession on production of the Referee's deed or deeds" (or
similar wording). The Second Department has given us guidance in holding that, prior to
issuance of the Order "the referee's deed should have been exhibited to and possession
demanded from [occupants],"18 however, “Service of a Notice to Quit is not a prerequisite
15 RPAPL §1311, “any person having an estate or interest in possession, or otherwise in
the property” is a necessary defendant.
16 In re Oligbo, 328 B.R. 619 (Bkrtcy. E.D.N.Y., 2005), citing, 585 A.P. Lenox
Associates v. 585 Lenox Ave.,194 A.D.2d 380, 598 N.Y.S.2d 264 (1st Dept., 1993).
17 Green Point Savings Bank v. Barbagallo, 247 A.D.2d 442, 668 NYS2d 678 (2d Dept.
18. Lincoln Sav. Bank v. Warren, 156 A.D.2d 510,548 N.Y.S.2d 783 (2d Dept. 1989).
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for a motion for a writ of assistance.”19
As predicate to a Summary Proceeding:
RPAPL §713 sets out an explicit 10-day notice period and requires "exhibiting”20 of the
Referee's deed (or a certified copy) prior to commencing a Petition to dispossess. When
using a certified copy (as most do), be sure it is properly certified.21
MOVING FOR POSSESSION:
By Writ of Assistance -
Once the deed has been produced and possession demanded,22 a motion may be made
under the Foreclosure caption23 for an Order directing a sheriff to remove occupants. The
court may also punish the failure to vacate as contempt of court. Be aware that, among the
disadvantages of a writ is the unlimited equity jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the
ability to re-examine all facets of the foreclosure and Supreme Court workload delays.
In the Petition, the Petitioner must prove that they derived title from a validly foreclosed
mortgage. The foreclosure action is presumed to have actually and necessarily disposed of
19 MERS, Inc. v. Bernard,18 Misc.3d 1134(A),___ NYS2d ___ (Sup. Ct, Nassau Co.,
2008)(memo), citing, Tri-Land Properties, Inc., v. 115 West 28th St., 267 A.D.2d 142,
701 N.Y.S.2d 16 (1st Dept., 1999).
20."Exhibiting" is an undefined term and some defense attorneys have argued that
"exhibiting" requires an in-person presentation to each occupant.
21 See, Security Pacific Nat. Trust Co. v. Cuevas, 176 Misc.2d 846, 675 N.Y.S.2d 500
(Civ. Ct., Kings Co., 1998).
22. Lincoln Sav. Bank v. Warren, 156 A.D.2d 510,548 N.Y.S.2d 783 (2d Dept. 1989).
23. Lincoln First Bank, N.A. v. Polishuk 86 A.D.2d 652, 446 N.Y.S.2d 399 (2d Dept.
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any defects in the legality or enforceability of the mortgage.24 The Court may not look
behind the referee's deed to questions title or ownership.25 Additionally, the Petitioner
must show that the occupants’ rights arose subsequent to the mortgage (or were rendered
subordinate by agreement) and if prior to the notice of pendency, that the party was
named in the foreclosure or that Petitioner was not on inquiry notice of the possession.26
Requirements that the Petition set forth the petitioner's and respondent's interests in the
premises together with a description of the premises adequate to put the Respondents on
notice has been determined to require separate actions for each residential unit.27
The Petition may also include a prayer for "fair value of use and occupancy."28 The
Petition must be verified,29 usually by counsel,30 even if the Petitioner is local to our
offices.31 There is some case law arguing that an attorney’s affirmation is insufficient to
support a default judgment, so personal signing is encouraged.
24. Beube v. English, 206 A.D.2d 339, 614 N.Y.S.2d 44 (2d Dep't 1994).
25. Ferber v. Salon Moderne, Inc., 174 Misc.2d 945, 668 N.Y.S.2d 864 (AT 1st Dep't
26. Vitale v. Pinto, 118 A.D.2d 774, 500 N.Y.S.2d 283 (2d Dep't 1986).
27. Commonwealth Mtg. Co. v. De Waltoff, 135 A.D. 33, 119 N.Y.S. 781 (1st Dept.,
28. RPAPL §741(5).
29. RPAPL §741.
30. CPLR §3020(d).
31. Lefrak v. Robinson, 115 Misc. 2d 256, 454 N.Y.S.2d 571 (City Ct., Mt. Vernon
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Once a judgment is granted, the court will issue a Warrant of Eviction (for a writ, which
is a motion, an Order of Possession issues). The Warrant or Order describes the premises
and directs a Sheriff or City Marshal to remove all occupants and put Petitioner in
possession of the premises. How an enforcing officer interprets "all" is fluid but should
include named parties and spouses, children, servants, boarders and guests of a proper
party32 except that the Kings County Sheriff will not execute a Warrant or Order against
an unnamed occupant.33
HOW CAN AN OCCUPANT STOP A POST-FORECLOSURE EVICTION?
Every court that hears eviction matters has some equity jurisdiction to stay actual
removal. The Supreme Court may stay its own Order or that before another Court on
motion. Such a stay must be explicitly granted.34 A Summary Proceeding may also be
stayed by application (usually Order to Show Cause). The Civil Court (City of New York)
may stay issuance or execution of a Warrant for up to six months from the date of
judgment.35 Other New York State Courts of limited jurisdiction are similarly limited.36
Bankruptcy by anyone in possession may also stay eviction for a limited period. If the
foreclosure sale was held pursuant to relief from an automatic stay in an open bankruptcy,
you may only proceed to obtain possession if the bankruptcy Order permits (or by
additional bankruptcy motion). Should a Respondent file bankruptcy after the sale but
32. Croft v. King, 8 Daly 265 (N.Y. Ct. Comm. Pleas 1879).
33. 1995 consent settlement of a class action suit.
34. Indestructible Metal Prod. v. Summergrade, 197 A.D. 199, 188 N.Y.S. 642 (1st Dep't
35. RPAPL §753(1).
36. N.Y. Const. Art VI, §16(d), §17(a).
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prior to issuance of a Warrant, an automatic stay is usually imposed37 which prevents
further proceedings until dismissal, discharge or relief on motion. The authority is split on
the effect of a bankruptcy commenced after issuance of a Warrant.
Another tactic worthy of consideration in defending the foreclosed former owner is to
attack title. While most Courts hearing summary proceedings cannot render a globally
binding decision on title, the courts are charged with determining if the petitioner has
standing to sue.38 A summary proceeding may be brought by the landlord or lessor; the
reversioner or remainderman after a life estate; the purchaser upon the execution or
foreclosure sale, or the holder a deed from a tax sale, or the successor to such a holder (if
no other relationship intervenes) and others. Conspicuously absent is a mortgagee, even a
mortgagee in possession pursuant to agreement. Although the purchasers under a
foreclosure rescue scheme may hold a deed, it may be construed by the Court to be an
equitable mortgage “when the instrument is executed as security for a debt”39 based on
the re-purchase provisions or requirements that the former owner pay the new ‘owner’s’
If the ‘foreclosure rescue’ sale closed on or after February 1, 2007, the tenancy that arises
when the then owner, now tenant sells the property additional equitable defenses might be
available if the lease terms are “unfair or commercially unreasonable.”40 Note that under
37 Under 2005 bankruptcy ‘reforms,’ the stay imposed by a Chapter 7, 11, or 13 filing
within one year of the dismissal of an earlier case will terminate 30 days after the filing
absent a demonstration that the filing was in good faith with respect to the evicting
creditor. There is no automatic stay for a third filing (after 2 dismissals) but the bankrupt
may seek a stay on motion.
38 RPAPL §721.
39 RPL §320.
40 The “Home Equity Theft Prevention” (RPAPL 265-a) became effective Feb. 1, 2007
(L. 2006, ch. 308, § 3).
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the new Equity Theft Prevention Act, a homeowner need not be served with a foreclosure
to be protected. Anyone in arrears two months on their primary residence can claim the
If a lease agreement was misrepresented, the deception may be actionable under New
York State consumer protection laws.41 There is some question as to whether this statute
is properly used as a summary proceeding counter-claim as the statute indicates that relief
may only be pursued by “action.”42 However, the occupant can “show materially
deceptive conduct on which they relied to their detriment,” relief may be available43
41 GBL §349; The test for movant to prevail “under section 349 must prove three
elements: first, that the challenged act or practice was consumer-oriented; second, that it
was misleading in a material way; and third, that the [movant] suffered injury as a result
of the deceptive act.” Stutman v. Chemical Bank, 95 N.Y.2d 24, 29, 709 N.Y.S.2d 892,
42 GBL §349(h) (“any person who has been injured by reason of any violation of this
section may bring an action in his own name to enjoin such unlawful act or practice, an
action to recover his actual damages or fifty dollars, whichever is greater, or both such
43 Stutman v. Chemical Bank, 260 A.D.2d 272, 690 N.Y.S.2d 8 (1st Dept.), leave to
appeal granted, 94 N.Y.2d 752, 700 N.Y.S.2d 425 (1999), affirmed, 95 N.Y.2d 24, 709
N.Y.S.2d 892 (2000).